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We fight for baby corals because they have very short arms. The Marhaver Lab is a marine biology research lab and a science communication skunkworks all working to help corals build the badass reefs of the future.

We solve the trickiest puzzles in coral breeding and we share the solutions with science and restoration teams around the globe, so that everyone can grow more corals, faster. We also host students and collaborators from around the world to study coral reef ecology, reproduction, and restoration on Curacao's healthy, beautiful, accessible coral reefs.

At the helm, Dr. Kristen Marhaver is a coral reef scientist, a coral reproduction expert, and a voice for smarter ocean conservation. She's also a TED Senior Fellow, a WINGS Fellow, a National Geographic Explorer, a Georgia Tech Alumni 40 Under 40 honoree, and a World Economic Forum Young Scientist, if we're keeping track of that sort of thing.


  • Forthcoming: Kristen's work will be featured in the Georgia Tech College of Science Magazine in Fall 2022

  • New article in Hakai Magazine about our successful "moonshot for coral breeding."

  • Kristen was named a 2022 Coral Champion by the Lewis Pugh Foundation. Thanks to the Pugh Foundation for highlighting our work!

  • New paper in Science Advances and we got the cover! Incredibly proud to help the Baums Lab make this major discovery in how corals evolve.

  • Coral spawning is on! Our 2022 field team includes Joaquin Yus and Daniel Gysbers from UIUC, Zach Quinlan, Bibi Renssen, and Emily Nixon from SIO, Rayna McClintock from UH, Daisy Flores from UT Austin, Jason Baer from SDSU, and Daan van Bendegom from University on Amsterdam. Truly an all-star team... and we're already scheming plans for Fall 2023.

  • New conference presentations - Kristen delivered talks for the International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen, Germany and the Reef Futures Symposium in Key Largo, Florida.

  • New paper in PLOS ONE shows how coral larvae settle in highly turbulent environments.

  • Our spawning predictions for 2022 are here! As in recent years, this is a joint collaboration by Kristen Marhaver, Mark Vermeij, and Valerie Chamberland, leveraging over 30 years of spawning observations on Curacao and around the Caribbean.

  • Limitless Magazine from UIUC's Grainger College of Engineering covered our collaborative research on materials engineering for coral restoration

  • New paper in Coral Reefs based on the Waitt Foundation survey of Curacao, that's 122 sites worth of data showing how predictable coral and fish assemblages are (or aren't!)

  • New donors! Generous private donations have already hit the books in 2022, supporting not only our newborn baby corals but also our extremely cool (like -196C) gene bank. If you have the means, we'd love to have your support, too.

  • New publication on materials engineering for coral settlement, and yet another cover! Congrats to lead author Mark Levenstein and the whole NSF-funded collaborative team.

  • New preprint on hydrodynamics, oscillating flow, and coral settlement. Congrats to our favorite physicist, Gabe Juarez, and the entire team from Illinois, CARMABI, Scripps, and SDSU!

  • Moving/shaking/sequencing all the things. Our intrepid technician Matthew is now headed to Palau for his next adventure. Meanwhile, Daisy stopped by in January to help care for the baby corals and kickoff the sample analysis for her PhD.

  • New talk posted: Kristen spoke at the Reef Futures Virtual conference in Dec 2021 about the spawning times of understudied corals and the importance of natural history for coral restoration success.

  • You won't believe what happens next. After many failed attempts, much tinkering, and about 20,000 timelapse shots, we captured the exact moment of coral settlement on video! (And, best of all, hundreds of new baby coral fans were born on Twitter.)

  • Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine featured Kristen and her work. Best quote: "It's like running an IVF clinic, neonatal intensive care unit, and daycare all at once, for an endangered species."

  • Fall spawning is also a wrap! In total, our super-crew from CARMABI, SDSU, Scripps, Illinois, and UT Austin raised hundreds of thousands of larvae, thousands of settlers, and seven species of coral - including two endangered species. Stay tuned for the talks, preprints, and baby coral toddler photos.

  • Coral Live 2021 is a wrap: we reached 30k students in 163 schools! Check out Kristen's lessons on "Life cycles and baby coral" and all of the other lessons from Team CARMABI!

  • New paper out in PNAS, and we got the cover! Assisted gene flow achieved in the endangered Elkhorn coral using cryopreserved sperm. Congrats to the entire team of funders and collaborators, what an honor to be part of this one. Press release here.

  • New films by the US National Academies - featuring our work on coral interventions and coral Assisted Gene Flow.

  • New NSF funding from ECO-CBET: we're excited to continue our interdisciplinary collaboration with the genius materials engineers at UIUC and the brilliant microbiologists at SDSU and SIO. With this team's momentum, experiments are already underway.

  • Spawning season 2021 is in full swing. New UIUC Postdoc Joaquin Yus joins for his first field season, Daisy returns with new labmates from UT Austin, and five more collaborators from Scripps, UIUC, and CARMABI round out the fall field team. Six coral species raised, and counting...

  • New preprint on ChemRxiv from our NSF-funded project on materials engineering for corals: "Engineered Substrates Reveal Species-Specific Inorganic Cues for Coral Larval Settlement." Congrats to Mark Levenstein for leading this truly interdisciplinary work!   

  • Kristen was named to the Georgia Tech Alumni 40 Under 40.

  • New publication in Caribbean Naturalist"Tissue-loss Diseases Can be Linked to Fungal Invasion." Congrats to first author Laurent Delvoye for this elegant histological study.

  • Spawning Predictions for 2021 are HERE: Team CARMABI is proud to release our annual coral spawning predictions as our humble service to, and our giggly celebration with, the coral spawning community in the Caribbean. (Click the link for a direct download.)

  • New funding! A cherished private donor is sending good vibes and baby corals in to the world by generously supporting the Marhaver Lab in 2021. Expect more baby corals (and their apochromatic baby photos) in the months ahead. Want to help magnify the effect? You can support our work with a donation here. We're an operating project of Multiplier, a U.S. 501(c)3, so your donations are tax deductible (to the extent allowed by law).

  • New article on ocean resilience for Deutsche Bank's Research Report on the Blue Economy (see pg 13).

  • Podcast episode with Marcus Mueller at Deutsche Bank on the importance of biodiversity protection for the stability of the global economy.

  • New supporters! A bunch of kind, optimistic, and extremely good-looking donors contributed to our Giving Tuesday Fundraiser and received a set of our 2020 Baby Coral Stickers. Want your own? You can join as a donor here!

  • Full Steam Ahead - Kristen spoke for the Hatboro-Horsham Girls STEAM Club. We talked about careers in science and we fed baby corals live on camera!

  • 24 new videos from Coral Live 2020. Kristen and Jamie hosted two lessons on the coral life cycle for Ages 7-11 and Ages 11-14. Kristen shared videos of 1-year-old baby Dendrogyra, a spawning Dichocoenia, and other recent CARMABI breakthroughs. Together the entire Coral Live team reached 29,800 students at 195 schools in 14 countries!

  • Article in The New Scientist on our collaborative work with the Baum's Lab on baby corals that inherit mutations from their parents.

  • New preprint on bioRxiv (and the story is SO cool): Baby corals can inherit genetic mutations from their parents, and sometimes their parents don't even bother finding a mate! Collaboration with the badass Baums Lab at PSU.

  • New article by our funders at Vulcan on recent coral losses on the GBR.

  • Short film: Spawning Hope. This award-winning film from friend and filmmaker Roshan Patel is out now. Congratulations, Rosh!

  • Coral Quarantine: Despite 2020's setbacks, crew members Katie and Sam shepherded our 8-month-old baby corals to a new level of happiness and cuteness this summer. For recent photos, check out @CoralSci on Twitter.

  • ICRS2020 is now ICRS2021 and our session is still on. Join us in Theme 2 for the session, "How will the coral populations of today affect the ecology and recovery of coral reefs in the future?" Call for abstracts is here.

  • New interview on coral philanthropy and restoration in the Summer 2020 issue of LUX. The take home: Do your research, know where you're donating, most of all support the small, scrappy, international crews that are doing the heaviest lifting to make coral restoration a reality.

  • Kristen is on Wikipedia.

  • Yearlings and Newborns: In Fall 2019, five coral species in the lab turned 1-year-old, and we welcomed babies of nine different coral species. (Want a sneak peek? 1-year-old Dichocoenia stokesii and Orbicella faveolata are now in the photo gallery on this page.)

  • New perspectives article in Science with co-author Nicole Fogarty: "Coral spawning, unsynchronized." Author's PDF is available here.

  • Why don't fish have hair? Kristen tackled this and other really good questions from the 22,000 viewers of Coral Live 2019. Plus, Kristen and Jamie fed baby corals live on camera. You can watch the replays here and here.

  • New Funding: PGAFF has generously supported a new gene banking and propagation initiative in the Marhaver Lab. In advance of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, we're working to protect as much coral genetic diversity as possible by banking sperm, raising new juveniles, advancing methods for coral cryopreservation, and training colleagues in all of the above.

  • ICRS2020: Abstracts have been chosen and the session is set. Kelly, Aaron, and I will see you at ICRS in July 2020 to discuss, "How will the coral populations of today affect the ecology and recovery of coral populations in the future?

  • NatGeo Support for Women in Science: Kristen received a new grant to collaborate with Dr. Linda Wegley Kelly at SDSU, to decode yet more secrets of coral-associated bacteria.

  • SciFoo2019: Kristen co-chaired a session on Ocean Biotechnology with four leaders on the topic. A major conclusion: Compared to medicine and agriculture, we're far too timid in our innovation and in our investments for the ocean. Time to move faster, aim higher, and fund more coral biotech. 

  • ICRS2020: Kristen is co-chairing a session at ICRS with Kelly Speare and Aaron Hartmann. "How will the coral populations of today affect the ecology and recovery of coral reefs in the future?" Join us in Theme 2!

  • 2019 Spawning is HERE: You can support the corals and humans of the Marhaver Lab by donating your coral money HERE. We're pretty sure you have coral money laying around - Help us grow more corals! P.S.: Multiplier is our U.S.-based 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor and you look really smart in that outfit.

  • Our work on Assisted Gene Flow was mentioned in the new National Academies report on coral interventions. Kristen was quoted in their rollout video and shown eagerly cheering on animals that grow 1 cm/year.

  • Workshop: For our new NSF project on Engineering Reef Recovery, we hosted five researchers from UIUC and SDSU for 10 days of coral spawning work at CARMABI. The yield: two new divers, four new coral spawning practitioners, dozens of new substrate formulations, tens of thousands of coral larvae, and one new flow chamber named WHIPLASH. (If you must ask: Water Hurling Interspersed Planula Larvae Across Substrates, Hopsakay.)

  • ARUBA! With scientists from Scripps, Waitt Institute, and CARMABI, Kristen helped survey 53 sites on Aruba to create the baseline data for the island's new marine park. Each of us swam >10 km underwater and spent over 3 hours on safety stops. There were shenangians.

  • Sci-Comm-Boot-Camp: To study the craft, Kristen attended the WEF Sci-Comm training in London. Highlights included improv classes from Hoopla, podcasting lessons from Gareth Mitchell, and photo composition tips from the lovely curators at London's Natural History Museum. Unfortunately, a posh British accent was not included.

  • 2019 Dream Team. Fall coral spawning approaches! Field ninjas Lucas Tichy and Daisy Flores will return this fall to build on their epic achievements from 2018. Completing the roster for 2019 are UIUC Postdoc Mark Levenstein and intern Sophie Schönherr. With Sophie as our first Luxembourgish team member, our lab tally of countries represented is up to 7!

  • Homecoming! Kristen was the plenary speaker for Wichita Collegiate School's Senior Mentor Breakfast then hit up San Diego to speak at Coral Club and Monterrey to speak at Biodiversity Funders Group. (Turns out speaking in front of everyone you knew in high school makes a room of 50 funders way less intimidating!)

  • We got the cover: Molecular Ecology featured Kristen's photo of baby corals on the cover of their January 2019 issue, alongside Aaron Hartmann's elegant paper on coral symbiosis.

  • With the assist: With colleagues from the Smithsonian, Mote Marine Lab, and The Florida Aquarium, we achieved the first assisted gene flow in Caribbean corals, and the first fertilization of the threatened Elkhorn Coral Acropora palmata using cryopreserved sperm. This creates powerful new tools for coral conservation, gene banking, and reef restoration. Video here. Preprint here!

  • Tiny corals on the big stage: Kristen gave a plenary talk at Reef Futures 2018, the biggest meeting of the Coral Restoration Consortium to date.

  • New Paper on the tricky metabolic relationship between coral larvae and their supposedly-helpful symbionts. Congrats to lead author and brilliant collaborator Dr. Aaron Hartmann.

  • New NSF grant! With funding from NSF's inter-disciplinary Convergence Research program, we're collaborating with UIUC and SDSU to apply advanced materials engineering and fluid physics to the design of coral settlement surfaces. Press release here.

  • Kristen moderated the Blue Economy panel at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin.

  • Gene banking IS VERY COOL. With a generous grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, we installed our own liquid nitrogen gene bank and learned coral cryopreservation from the amazing Hagedorn Lab of HIMB and SCBI. We've already cryopreserved hundreds of billions of sperm cells from three endangered coral species. Their new home at -196C is literally so cool.

  • 2018 Coral Spawning is HERE. Research interns Daisy Flores and Lucas Tichy proved their mettle with 16 consecutive nights of diving in August. Intrepid lab volunteers Greg Boecker and Katie Leeper rounded out this year's spawning team, contributing their talents and time in the lab and underwater.

  • The Trust for Conservation Innovation is now Multiplier Project Accelerator. As our 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor, Multiplier expertly manages our grants and donations with high precision, high speed, and low overhead. We're so grateful to work with this organization. Also, we have a new donations page and your hair look great today.

  • The Economist and Economist Radio recently covered our research on coral probiotics.

  • Bachelor's student Kiki Bals finished her successful histology study of coral fertilization. Kristen recently presented these data at ECRS in Oxford and at Harvard MCZ.

  • We've joined the BMMO Network to advance the study of Beneficial Microbes for Marine Organisms; you can follow the Network on Twitter here​.

  • New grant from National Geographic CRE will accelerate our research on coral probiotics for reef restoration. Can you help, too? Donate here.

  • Kristen's new TED Talk has 1 Million views!

  • New paper in Conservation Letters shows healthy coral populations produce up to 200x more larvae than degraded populations.

  • The Coral Restoration Consortium is born. We will be sharing resources and methods widely through the CRC Larval Propagation Working Group.

  • New in-depth webinar on coral spawning methods for the reef restoration community. (For the PDF version, email here or join the Reef Resilience Coral Restoration Group here.)

  • New paper in Coral Reefs on propagating the quirky Caribbean brain coral Diploria labyrinthiformis. PDF here.

  • The Marhaver Lab is now an operating project of the Trust For Conservation Innovation. You can become one of our fabulous, good-looking lab supporters here.


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